I was saddened to hear of the passing of former Mets catcher Gary “The Kid” Carter. I have been a Mets fan since 1968, a year before that miracle season of 69 and I have seen in my lifetime more than my share of first place, last place, and mediocre seasons. I knew when Fred Wilpon and Nelson Doubleday purchased the team in 1980, they would be good again; this was long before there was any word about the Wilpon’s faux-pas investment practices.
With the acquisition of Keith Hernandez from the St. Louis Cardinals in 1983, Doc and Darryl (Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry) becoming the face of the franchise in 1984, the acquisition of “Kid” from the now defunct Montreal Expos (became Washington Nationals) in 1985 was the final piece of the puzzle that made the 1986 world championship possible. During the last days of pre-Internet, cell phone, Facebook and Twitter, and before anyone thought of any non-first place teams (wild cards) in post-season play, I have fond memories of the 1986 Mets. Shea Stadium (torn down and replaced by Citi Field in 2009) was my summer home and I spent many a summer’s afternoon or evening in the loge or mezzanine keeping score and rooting for my Boys of Summer.
The passing of Gary Carter albeit it too young at age 57 is just another way I show my age. During that magical year of 1986, I had just graduated the University of Connecticut, only five years out of high school, still living in Norwalk, Connecticut, my father still living, my buddy now residing in Mehanicsville, VA (suburb or Richmond) still living next door sharing memories, and myself able to move quickly without pain. With Kid’s passing, a part of me dies.
I hope the Mets make a point to retire number 8 in the near future.